USMNT hires Gregg Berhalter: U.S. Soccer explains lengthy coaching search

There is one question that has been on the minds of U.S. men's national team fans have over the last couple months: What is taking so long? Fans were growing restless about the search and hiring process for a new USMNT coach. With Bruce Arena stepping away after the World Cup qualifying debacle in 2017, and with Dave Sarachan as interim manager for a year, U.S. soccer fans have been wondering about this topic for months.

Well, the news officially came on Sunday when U.S. Soccer announced the hiring of Gregg Berhalter. But why did it take more than a year to finally find a replacement? Here's what happened:

A word from U.S. Soccer

U.S. Soccer sent a press release to media members Sunday detailing the hire, but also sent information explaining the process. This is what U.S. Soccer said to start:

"The appointment marked the culmination of a thorough process at a unique time in U.S. Soccer history, and not just for the Men's National Team program. In the wake of the MNT missing out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the period of intense scrutiny and thoughtful evaluation included the establishment of the General Manager position, an election to determine a new U.S. Soccer President for the first time in more than a decade, and the unprecedented effort to win the bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup."

Getting a general manager

After failing to qualify for the World Cup, there was a bit of a shakeup in U.S. Soccer. Last December, the board of directors voted to establish a position of general manager for the USMNT, with the main function being to hire a coach. The process to fill the role had to wait for the federation to elect a new president, which came in February of this year with Carlos Cordeiro. And while the U.S. needed a general manager for the national team and a coach, this was also during the time of trying to win the bid to host the 2026 World Cup, which the U.S. won alongside Mexico and Canada. This summer, the USMNT hired Earnie Stewart and he began his job on Aug. 1., just four months ago.

What did Stewart do?

Stewart developed the framework to identify the of profile of the coach U.S. Soccer believed it needed, which included reaching out to former USMNT players.

"I felt getting the feedback of those who had contributed so much to the success of our National Team in the past was important in helping to establish the profile," Stewart said. "I didn't want it to be random either. The criteria I set for who I would reach out to was purposeful. There's no mistake with someone that played 100 times for their country or captained the National Team on multiple occasions."

Stewart also talked to technical directors in MLS and some others. He also looked at data of the game to examine proficiency on various levels.

"We don't want to leave one stone unturned. Innovation and data analytics are part of the game these days," Stewart said. "In high performance sports, the difference between winning and losing can be a very small margin, so trying to find a competitive advantage that can help you win games is important. We need to be constantly looking for those margins, and the innovations with data analytics can help us in this area."

Closing in and making a choice

Stewart had a list of 33 coaches initially who might fit the profile, and he narrowed the list down to 11. From there, there were two finalists with Berhalter getting the job on Sunday officially. 

"Gregg has the background as a person, successful coach and former player," Stewart said. "When it comes to the base and added value qualifications, he scored extremely high. His willingness, work ethic and ideas about developing this player pool and influencing these players in and outside of camp and the thought process he has about that -- constantly seeking new things -- set him apart.

"He is a coach that is learning at all times. Every single day he tries to develop himself so he can be a better leader for the team that he has. That is something that really stood out with Gregg and went a long way in the decision to offer him the job."

Next game

The USMNT's next scheduled game is on Feb. 2 against Costa Rica, which you could stream on fuboTV (Try for free).   

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CBS Sports Writer

Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Goal.com... Full Bio

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